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London Dog Forum > Dog Fun, Fact & Entertainment > Doga - The Sacred Union Between Man and Dog Achieved through Yoga
Doga - The Sacred Union Between Man and Dog Achieved through Yoga
Doga with Mahny
However much we love city life, living in London is stressful therefore anything that helps us find tranquillity has to be a bonus. One way to achieve perfect harmony between physical and mental health is to practice yoga. In fact, the very name means “union” in Ancient Sanskrit. This is all well and good for us humans, but what happens to the poor pressurized pooch that is left chewing his paws at home while we are achieving serenity through the sacred sound of “AUM”?
All is not lost because Mahny Djahanguiri has provided the answer in doga - yoga for dogs and their owners.
Mahny has been studying the ancient art of yoga since 1999 and has had many years of experience in teaching human students. It was the success of her classes with mothers and toddlers that gave her the inspiration to take the art one step further and provide classes for dog owners and their companions.
“Many neurotic dogs have benefitted from coming to regular doga sessions. Doga is a holistic practice that has physiotherapeutic benefits as well as neurological ones,” said Mahny, as she energetically skipped across Hampstead Heath in sub-zero temperatures with our more than willing hounds in hot pursuit. I, on the other hand, was dreaming of log fires and following rather less enthusiastically behind.
Mahny’s delightful Maltese terrier pup, Robbie, has clearly benefitted from his doga training and is completely relaxed and at ease with any size of dog that he meets. I was curious to know how a dog is handled during a doga class and had visions of me attempting a ‘warrior pose’ with my 38 kilo shepherd straddled on my hip. In fact, for me to strike a pose without a dog would be comedic enough!
Mahny explained that her classes tended to be separated into one for small dogs that could be lifted with ease and another for larger dogs where a different approach is taken that does not involve lifting.
“No dog is ever forced into taking part. I encourage my (human) students to breathe with awareness and discipline throughout the class and not to be distracted by the dog that is allowed to roam freely. Sniffing other dogs, piddling and barking is all part of the doga experience. Once the dog gets to know the pack, he will settle onto a yoga mat and gain harmony with the class. Some dogs take longer than others but they do all relax eventually.”
In this article I will not attempt to describe in depth such poses as Trikonsana or Uttanasana or even Ujjayi pranayama, which is the type of breathing used in doga that literally translates as ‘victorious breath’. No, that is the job for a writer on a much higher spiritual plain, but I will try to alleviate any concerns that people might have over what is expected of their pet.
Doga is a symbiotic experience where breathing is the key. When achieving ‘Ujjayi pranayama’, a form of deep breathing which slows the heart rate, the dogs’ breathing will simultaneously become longer and, occasionally, a dog can be heard to sigh. The doga experience encourages nurturing and bonding through the ancient art and healing powers of yoga. As owners focus on their own seven chakras, the energy centres that reside in the spine, their yoga practice is reflected on their dogs.
Doga involves gentle canine extensions and flexions, stroking, belly rubs, neck massage and sacred chanting (the latter being the humans not the dogs!). Relaxation or the ‘corpse pose’ can be one of the most beneficial poses for both the dog and the human as it allows deep relaxation of the muscle fibres, major organs and of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system (the fight of fright mechanism).
I am ignorant in the subject of yoga but having listened to Mahny and been given simple demonstrations during our tramp through Antarctica, I can understand how dogs may benefit from doga. There is evidence that dogs pick up on our emotions, and, if the only advantage of these classes is to be in the presence of an owner who is calm and able to nurture a relationship with their pet in a quiet and relaxed manner, then they have achieved their aim. But it could be that there is something that goes much deeper.......................
Mahny’s doga classes run as a set course of 4 wks.
FREE YOGA DOGA TRIAL SESSION APRIL 28 th 2.30 -3.30 The Pirate Castle with live music / chai tea / doggie yoga snaps
Complete Yoga and doga beginners welcome
Free introduction to doga with Mahny Q and A plus a long relaxation with your dog / Chai and Chat
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